How to cook lobster thermidor including recipes.

Lobster Thermidor
Lobster Thermidor is one of the most popular and classical recipes for lobster, yet it is also one of the most extravagant. It is usually reserved for special occasions such as celebrations amongst family and friends and holidays. The dish was created over 100 years ago in Paris, has evolved over the years and is now recreated in homes and kitchens all over the world.

The original recipe for Lobster Thermidor called for the lobsters to be split in half lengthways when they were still alive before being baked in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
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These days, most people would find this method of preparation extremely squeamish, and therefore more recent recipes either instruct the chef to boil the live lobsters before splitting them or they use lobsters that have been cooked previously.

Lobster Thermidor is in effect a mixture of lobster meat and a creamy sauce that is served inside the empty lobster shell, topped with cheese and browned under the grill.

In some recipes the sauce consists of a thick bechamel base to which a concentrated stock of white wine, fish and meat stock, mustard (powder in the original recipe), chopped shallots, chervil and tarragon is generally added, whilst other recipes contain a sauce made up of double cream, egg yolks, butter and brandy or sherry.

Another variant in the recipe is the type of cheese used. Those that stick to the original French recipe use Gruyère or Parmesan, whilst others include Mozzarella or even Cheddar.

Below we offer a variety of different recipes, some that adhere to the traditional recipe, and others that have been created to suit more modern tastes.

Simple Lobster Thermidor

This simple dish has the minimum amount of ingredients, yet is just as delicious as the more involved recipes.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 lobster (2lb) boiled and split lengthways (according to instructions in How to cook lobster) and allowed to cool
  • 10 fl oz (300ml) of thick Béchamel sauce
  • 4 oz (100g) of Gruyère cheese (grated)
  • 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
Method
  1. Take the split lobster and remove all of the flesh from the shells. Clean the shells and leave to one side. Ensure that they are kept intact.
  2. Roughly chop the lobster flesh.
  3. In a large bowl mix together the Béchamel sauce and the mustard and then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the chopped lobster flesh and stir well until it is evenly coated with the sauce.
  5. Divide the lobster meat mixture between the two shells and smooth flat with a knife.
  6. Top with the grated Gruyère and place under a preheated grill for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the sauce is hot.
  7. Remove from the grill and serve.

Lobster Thermidor (old version)

This recipe does not have any measurements and the lobster is split in two when it is still alive, a method of preparation that may not appeal to all chefs!

Ingredients
  • 1 live lobster
  • olive oil
  • thick Béchamel sauce
  • mustard
  • white wine
  • fish stock
  • meat gravy
  • shallots
  • chervil
  • tarragon
  • butter
  • grated Parmesan
Method
  1. Place the live lobster on a board, take a sharp, heavy-duty knife and split the lobster cleanly in two down the middle.
  2. Twist off the claws and crack them open with the back of the knife or a hammer. Remove the meat and place in a bowl.
  3. Pour a little olive oil over the flesh of the lobster inside the two half shells and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place into a preheated oven and roast for 15 - 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Afterwards, remove the lobster flesh from the shells, keeping the shells intact in the process.
  6. Clean the shells and set aside and dice the meat.
  7. Prepare a stock by firstly melting some butter and gently frying the chopped shallots until soft.
  8. Add the white wine, fish stock and meat gravy.
  9. Add the herbs and boil until the liquid reduces to a concentrated mixture.
  10. Add a small amount of the Béchamel sauce and some mustard and stir.
  11. Allow the sauce to boil for 1 minute.
  12. Quickly whisk in some butter (about a third of the volume of the sauce) and stir gently.
  13. Remove the sauce from the heat and line the two empty lobster shells with half of the sauce.
  14. Fill the shells with the diced lobster meat and cover with the remaining sauce.
  15. Top with grated Parmesan and a little melted butter.
  16. Brown in the oven.
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Lobster Thermidor with cream and sherry

This recipe does not use a Béchamel sauce. Instead it is rich in cream and egg yolks and is flavoured with sherry.

Ingredients
  • 1/2lb (225 g) lobster meat plus two cleaned shells
  • 8 fl oz (240ml) double cream
  • 4 fl oz (120 ml) sherry or brandy
  • 4 oz (120 g) grated Gruyère
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • salt and pepper
Method
  1. In a small bowl beat the egg yolks into the cream. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the lobster meat and the sherry or brandy.
  3. Stir well and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Very slowly add the egg and cream mixture, stirring continuously to ensure an even sauce.
  5. As soon as the sauce thickens remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Fill the lobster shells with the mixture and top with the grated cheese.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and place under a preheated grill until the cheese has melted and browns.
  8. Remove from the grill and serve.



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